India approves the Russian vaccine in the midst of a virulent second Covid-19 wave

On the way.
On the way.
Image: REUTERS/Hazem Ahmed
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India today (April 12) approved the Russian Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use.

Sputnik V, developed by Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, was granted an emergency use authorisation by India’s subject expert committee on vaccines. It will now be taken up by India’s drugs regulator for a final approval, and will be the third vaccine in India’s armour against the coronavirus pandemic.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), the country’s sovereign wealth fund, had in September 2020 tied up with Indian pharmaceutical company Dr Reddy’s Laboratories for clinical trials and production. Since then, several Indian drugmakers like Hetero and Panacea Biotech have made pacts with Dr Reddy’s and RDIF to produce the Sputnik V vaccine locally. Together, these companies can produce up to 850 million doses of vaccine annually.

The Sputnik V is a two-dose vaccine, where each dose is administered three weeks apart. Its phase 3 trial results have shown an efficacy of over 91%, according to data published in the medical journal The Lancet in February.

Currently, the Russian vaccine has been approved for emergency use in 60 countries.

The approval comes as good news at a time when India is dealing with a record-breaking second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. The country has been clocking an average of over 100,000 cases over the past week, and several states have run out of vaccines.